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Choreographing for Tamassu
- Mayuri Upadhya, Bangalore
Pics: Veena Narasasetty

July 4, 2010

'Tamassu' is like upholding a mirror for all of us, living in today's society. It's a relevant and relatable subject with a powerful message to hand down. It's a much awaited film for all right reasons.

Choreographing the title track was an extremely memorable experience. I was lucky to get this project. The entire team comprised of not just seniors but veterans in their respective fields. They worked hand in hand with me to execute my thoughts - from the director Sreedhar sir, to cinematographer Suvarna sir, to art director Shashidar Adappa and finally Shivanna. Phew!!! Shivraj Kumar, Dr. Rajkumar's son, is fondly called as Shivanna. He plays the protagonist.

Mayuri with the Director
Mayuri with Shivanna

I met each one of them prior to shooting to ensure thorough execution of the same. Their expert suggestions not only boosted my confidence but also added more definition and color to my work. The only familiar thing and my strength was my team of 16 dancers, and my experience in the dance field. I loved the entire shooting experience... so did my team. Every single individual worked hard and hopefully the audience also liked the final product. It's fresh, experimental and contemporary in every bit of it.

Veena Narasasetty introduced me to Sreedhar sir. He's the only reason for me to bag this project and I'll always be grateful for this opportunity. For him to take a chance on me, a beginner in the film field, was risky but his faith was undeterred. He guided me throughout. "I need a balance between commercial and artistic language"; "Keep your target in mind" etc. were his pointers for me.

I still remember the time when our meetings reached a stage of giving up... we'd met to exchange parting notes, shake hands in goodwill and look for working together sometime in future. My concepts were shot down as too arty, abstract ... .and I said I'm not sure if I can do this. Sreedhar sir advised me, "Mayuri, anyone who has studied till a degree can and should think of reaching out to those without such learning opportunities and educate them. An educated person has the ability in him already if he wants to tap into it and reach the uneducated, but it can never be other way round... with your learning in dance... it's easy. So think new ... attempt again."

It was the final try... when I explained my latest concept, he sat silent for sometime. Then, came a burst of cheer with those most magical words, "Let's do it... go ahead, start planning." He stood by me in all my research. I asked for meetings with various depts. and he made sure I got every bit of co-operation from all. He even came to watch my rehearsals and patted me with a smile. His child like enthusiasm would show when Shivanna had to learn martial art sequences and sword movements. At the same time, his participation in it also showed me his in-depth knowledge on the subject. I look up to his courage and wish the best for his directorial debut.

Shivanna is a fast learner and his experience is evident when he performs with ease, whatever movement is given to him. He's humble, but loads of fun on the sets. When I first met him to explain the concept, he was enthusiastic and supportive of the idea. He said, "Everyone needs to bring into the industry their individual style" and he was happy to welcome this change. He's a thorough professional, coming on time to the sets. He also helped me in keeping the tempo of work high and go fast ... (esp. since we were short of time. It really boosted the energy of the whole team). He's the soul of the entire song.

Mayuri Upadhya is the Artistic Director of Bangalore based contemporary dance company Nritarutya.

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